Band of Horses – Cease To Begin

Band of Horses
Cease To Begin

Formed from the ashes of Carissa’s Wierd by Ben Bridwell and Mat Brooke, Seattle’s Band Of Horses put out one of 2006’s most precious indie-rock records, Everything All The Time. They managed to carve a niche and make a name for themselves with a distinctive blend of radiant and anthemic indie-rock, frothing with jangly and heavily reverbed guitars and refined vocals. Although working with famed indie engineer/producer Phil Ek (Built To Spill, Modest Mouse, The Shins) may have helped make their name, it was the music that ultimately won them many fans and some critical acclaim.

With founding member Brooke having left the band to pursue other musical interests, frontman Bridwell, along with core members Rob Hampton and Creighton Barrett relocated to Bridwell’s home state of South Carolina. Hooking up once again with producer Phil Ek, Band Of Horses set about fashioning their sophomore album, Cease To Begin, equipped with the experiences a break-away and a move bring, along with their ability to craft emotionally stimulating and dreamy indie-rock.

In addition to an overall brighter and slightly softer edge, a subtle southern comfort feel has seeped into a few tracks on Cease To Begin, but don’t despair. While the softer tunes take more time to absorb, they ultimately display some well written, delicate guitar leads and are sung with sweet vocals and lilting melodies that draw comparisons to label-mates The Shins. Other louder tracks have plenty of the edgy, layered guitars, dripping wet with reverbed echoes, that made Everything All The Time so engaging, only this time around they’re even better with a richer and fuller sound.

Opener “Is There A Ghost” starts slowly with a bubbly pop feel that explodes into a raucous good time with a blasting melody and thrashing guitars with Bridwell’s tender wail riding the crests. “Ode to LRC” bridges the gap perfectly between the old and new BOH with their familiar majestic rhythms expanded to include some softer, melancholic touches that segue nicely to the Shins-like “No One’s Gonna Love You” and the oddly named but soothingly vibrant “Detlef Schrempf”. The Southern-fried transgressions of “The General Specific” and “Marry Song” are completely forgiven thanks to the energetically cool and catchy “Islands On The Coast”, a song of the year candidate that boasts some shimmering guitar waves smashing against each other in perfect harmony amongst swirling beats and dynamically smooth drumming. “Cigarettes, Wedding Bands” continues the party and sounds the most like a continuation from Everything All The Time, with the jangly and catchy guitar lines tempered with meatier chords and a dash of aggressiveness. Closer “Window Blues” relaxes the mood with some lazy blues-like rhythms that are like a welcome, late-evening breeze on a hot summer day complete with trippy banjo lead.

Band Of Horses have hit upon an endearing sound by taking their experiences and whipping them up with a variety of styles and influences that are creatively transformed into a unique and cohesive album filled with energetic, emotional and enjoyable indie-rock.